Christopher Lawrence Cox is the Florida man accused of shooting two 14-year-old boys in Panama City Beach, killing one of them. The teens, who police said were stepbrothers from Louisville, Kentucky, were on vacation with their family.
Police said the shooting happened around 1:30 a.m. on March 23. The teens encountered Cox on the beach behind a resort called the Shores of Panama. According to the arrest affidavit Heavy obtained from the Bay County Clerk of Court, Cox confessed that he had “unloaded” his firearm at the boys.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cox Asked the Teens for a Cigarette Before Threatening to Shoot Them, The Surviving Boy’s Mother Says
According to the Panama City Beach Police, the two teenagers were on the beach around 1:30 a.m. when they encountered Cox. The surviving boy’s mother, who was not on the trip and whose name was not published, told WHAS-TV that her son and his stepbrother had been sitting on the beach listening to music on YouTube.
She said the boys were approached by a stranger, now identified as Cox, who asked them for a cigarette. “Of course they’re children so they said no,” she told the outlet. “Not really sure what set the man off but he asked them to get up and walk towards the water and that he was going to shoot them.”
The mother explained to WHAS-TV that her son was alive because of the heroic actions of the other boy. “He jumped in front of his brother and did everything he could to protect him and he saved his life,” she told WHAS-TV. She said the boys were best friends. “I can’t even imagine the love that they had for each other. I just want that to be known more than anything.”
Police said one of the teens was shot multiple times in the upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene. The surviving boy was shot in the foot and arm, according to the affidavit. He was treated at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay in Panama City and was released.
2. Cox Claimed the Boys Had Tried to Steal His Bag & That He Opened Fire to Avoid Losing His Firearm
Cox tried to run after the shooting but Panama City Beach officers quickly apprehended him. According to the affidavit available on the Bay County Clerk of Court website, Cox confessed to shooting the boys after he was read his Miranda rights.
Cox, 37, claimed the teens had attempted to steal his backpack. He told officers he “pulled the bag away from the victim” and reached inside for the handgun, which he said he kept wrapped in a black shirt. Cox said he “chambered a round” and “unloaded” on the teens. Cox told the police he didn’t have a concealed weapons permit.
According to the affidavit, an officer asked Cox what would have happened had the teens stolen his bag. Cox responded he would have lost his gun and he hadn’t been willing to risk that. Cox also acknowledged in the police interview that he could have outrun the boys. He also described them as “retarded” and “developmentally challenged,” according to the affidavit.
Police said they are “still investigating the events of what occurred between the three prior to the shooting.”
3. Cox Moved From Louisville to Panama City Beach in 2020
Like the teens, Cox was also originally from the Louisville, Kentucky, area. NBC affiliate WAVE-TV, citing a Panama City Beach spokeswoman, reported Cox did not know the teenagers and that their shared connection to Louisville was a coincidence.
The outlet added that Cox had moved to Panama City Beach in 2020. Cox’s home address was listed on the arrest affidavit. He lived in a two-bedroom mobile home located about five miles away from the Shores of Panama resort complex.
Bay County property records show Cox bought the property in July 2020 for $53,500.
4. Cox Was Charged With Murder & Attempted Murder
Cox was booked into the Bay County Jail. He faces felony charges of murder and attempted murder.
Court records show a public defender was assigned to represent Cox. His first court appearance was scheduled for March 24.
As of this writing, the online record did not indicate whether the judge planned to set a bond amount or order Cox to remain in jail as the case proceeds.
5. Cox Was Convicted of Domestic Assault in Kentucky in 2018, According to a Report
A search of online records shows Cox was arrested in 2017 for domestic violence in Louisville, Kentucky. He was initially charged with second-degree assault.
According to The Courier-Journal, Cox was convicted in 2018 of “fourth-degree assault as part of a domestic violence case.”
The newspaper reported that a judge ordered Cox to “serve two years of conditional discharge.” He was warned against committing future offenses during that time frame, with the punishment being up to 12 years in prison.